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Martin Reeves (or Martin the Music Man), our Music Enrichment Leader, returned to Richardson Care homes again in March after the Coronavirus lockdown, performing in the gardens of the homes. Martin sings and plays the guitar and ukulele. He also has a collection of fun percussion instruments (one is shaped like a banana, for instance) and he tailors his activities to the preferences and personalities to the residents in each care home.

His weekly music sessions certainly enrich the lives of the service users (as well as the staff) within the homes, in various different ways.

Martin says: “I have been humbled by the response of service users and staff since I came back. In many cases, it’s as though I’d never been away. It struck me how everyone got straight back into the music. They started requesting songs and singing along immediately. It was incredible.”

Martin’s return was an emotional and uplifting experience for all, and, as you’d expect, people responded in different ways.

Martin continues: “Some of the guys who have learning disabilities just asked for the same songs as usual (Happiness/Michael Row the Boat Ashore/This OId Man etc). They hadn’t forgotten any of the words. The guys at 8 Kingsthorpe Grove are probably the most engaged and the best for sheer enthusiasm. They can sing really loudly and be really joyous.

“Music embeds itself into your psyche. Singing is a different cognitive process to talking, and sometimes, people who sing don’t always talk. This is particularly important for people who have an acquired brain injury and may struggle with memory issues or speech. The words and melodies are entrenched. It’s as though the brain has a separate shelf that it keeps all the music on.”

Music enrichment for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

At our home in Duston, two young ladies in particular get really involved and are very enthusiastic. Martin says: “Whatever the song, one gives it the full operatic treatment. Another was given a guitar for her birthday, which she plays left handed even though she’s right-handed! One of the reasons is that she can mirror what I’m playing….in her own unique way. She’s also been taking videos and sending them to her Mum. You can see the joy in her and it’s clear the music really brings that out.”

Music enrichment for adults with acquired brain injury

Martin adds: “Playing for the guys at 144 Boughton Green Road is more like playing for a bunch of blokes down the pub. We have a joke and a laugh and there’s a fair bit of heckling and banter. I have worked out what sort of music stimulates them, so I can play more obscure music, such as the Bluetones/Jack Johnson/Divine Comedy/Squeeze…anything that comes into my mind and they really get something out of it. The music takes them out of themselves and gives them a sense of normality. They can relax, have a laugh and be entertained.”

Individual responses to the music

“There are different levels of interest and activity among the service users and if I’m playing outside some of the guys will just listen to the music in their room through the window. It can have a calming and relaxing effect, as well as enhancing their mood.

“I’m very aware of how people respond. Some people respond well to some gentle encouragement and join in, while others need more time. I’m even pleased when people sleep through some of the music sessions as this means that they are completely relaxed.”

Martin concludes: “When I first started coming to Richardson Care over 10 years ago it struck me then how the organisation thinks outside the box to enhance and enrich the lives of people in their care. It’s wonderful to be back. Returning to doing some meaningful activity after lockdown and seeing everyone’s response gave me a real boost. It’s massively rewarding and enriches my life too, giving me a sense of purpose and value. I feel part of the team, but I never forget that I’m a guest in someone else’s home. It’s about creating the right atmosphere, so I’m not pushy at all.”

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These are the reflections of Wendy Coleman, Registered Manager at 23 Duston Road, who retires in June after 10 years at Richardson Care. We’d like to thank her for the way that she has led her team and brought stability to the home. Wendy’s passion, commitment and support has enabled her and her team to enhance the lives of the residents at 23 Duston Road. Here she shares her reflections on her experience at Richardson Care.

“It has been a pleasure to work for Richardson Care. The care they provide is excellent and I am proud I have been part of the Management team and the relationship we have built. I am proud of the staff at 23 Duston Road; their hard work and achievements. I could not have achieved what I have without them. I am proud of the relationships I have built with service users’ families and other professionals.

Bringing leadership to the team

“When I first came to 23 Duston Road, there had been frequent changes of management, so the staff had been left without consistent management. They lacked guidance, leadership and direction. I found out later that they didn’t expect me to last more than three months!

“I worked with the staff to give them stability of direction and to ensure that everyone understood their responsibilities, increasing motivation and the overall effectiveness of the team. With more focus on consistently implementing policies and procedures, staff were better able to deliver good standards, thus providing better outcomes for the residents.

“Every day is different and often brings new challenges. It has been wonderful to see the home transform and staff develop into a cohesive team. We are all responsible for the wellbeing and safety of the residents, fulfilment of their needs and positive outcomes.

Management qualities

“I feel as a Manager you must be caring and have large amounts of patience and resilience. You need to have good communication skills and always be ready to listen. As Managers, we play a key role in ensuring that the service users’ needs are met and they live happy fulfilled lives.

“I see my achievements as enhancing the lives of the service users. It’s also when staff lay on events, parties, outings, etc and I see how much the residents enjoy them. Seeing staff development and confidence in promoting high standards of care are also very rewarding.

“It’s a demanding environment as many of our service users have complex needs and can present with behaviour that challenges. As a Manager, you also have to deal with staff performance issues. I have learnt from every experience, and I know that I’m not alone. I am supported in my role by the Multi-disciplinary team of neuro specialists and the other Managers.

“I have learnt that it is important to ask for help: My peers, the Managers and Directors have always been there for guidance and support.

“I feel I have developed myself in the role. As well as keeping up to date with training, I have taken the opportunity to advance my skills. I have enjoyed working with my peers and the Management team, to develop skills in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), where you reflect on your own practice and those of others.

It’s more than a job

“Being the Manager at 23 Duston Road has been more than a job: It has been a big part of my life and I will take many happy memories with me. I have made many good friends and I find the feedback from everyone quite overwhelming. Everyone should be proud of what they have achieved: I am sure that they and the company will continue to grow and achieve.”

Managing complex placements

“Wendy’s experience and calm and level character was just what we needed at 23 Duston Road”, adds Greg Richardson-Cheater, Director. “We have some service users with very complex and challenging behaviours who need a stable and consistent environment. Without someone like Wendy, some of those placements may have failed.

“She is also genuinely caring and always up for the challenge, because she wants to give people a chance. For instance, she has been prepared to accept some very difficult respite placements because she want to give them and their family a break.

“Wendy has demonstrated true commitment to the job, the service users and her colleagues. She had originally planned to retire before the Covid crisis, but decided to stay on through a very difficult time. We are hugely grateful to her for the support that she has given us over the last 10 years. We’d like to wish her all the very best for her retirement.”


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Natalia Thumwood, known to everyone as Tally, has been promoted to Registered Homes Manager at 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – homes for adults with learning disabilities. She had big boots to fill as she took over from Jackie Mann, who first joined Richardson Care in 1990 and was very popular with service users and their families.

Tally is a warm-hearted and dedicated Manager. She loves working in the care sector and joined Richardson Care nine years ago as an Activity Support Worker. She progressed to Senior Support Worker then Manager at Kingsthorpe Grove so has built up a good rapport with staff, service users and their families over the years.

Read Tally’s profile


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The CQC Emergency Support Framework (ESF) was launched on 1st May, running until 30th September. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, routine inspections of residential care homes and other providers were suspended, so the ESF offered a structured framework for regular conversations between the CQC and care providers. Although they were not inspections, the ESF provided a source of intelligence the CQC could use to monitor risk and identify where providers needed extra support to respond to emerging issues, and to ensure they delivered safe care which protects people’s human rights. It was also designed to aid understanding of the impact of coronavirus on staff and people using care services.

The ESF covered the following four areas:

  • Safe care and treatment
  • Staffing arrangements
  • Protection from abuse
  • Assurance processes, monitoring, and risk management

During this period the CQC contacted our specialist residential care homes for adults with acquired brain injury at The Richardson Mews, The Coach House and 144 Boughton Green Road and our specialist residential care homes for adults with learning disabilities at 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove.

For all of the homes contacted, the CQC concluded:

  • Infection risks to people using the services are being thoroughly assessed and managed.
  • The services have reliable access to the right personal protective equipment and C-19 testing for both staff and people who use the services.
  • The locations’ environments support the preventing and containing the transmission of infection.
  • Working arrangements and procedures are clear and accessible to staff, people who use the services, their supporters, and visitors to the services.
  • Medicines are being managed safely and effectively.
  • Risks to the health of people using the services are being properly assessed, monitored and managed.
  • There were enough suitable staff to provide people with safe care in a respectful and dignified way.
  • There were realistic and workable plans for managing any staffing shortfalls and emergencies.
  • People were being protected from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and loss of their human rights.
  • Safeguarding and other policies and practice, together with local systems, are properly managing any concerns about abuse and protecting people’s human rights.
  • The provider is monitoring and protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of staff.
  • The provider’s systems and methods for monitoring the overall quality of the service and for responding to business risks and issues as they arise are effective.
  • Staff are supported to raise concerns and give feedback about the service.
  • Care and treatment provided to people is being properly recorded.
  • The provider is able to work effectively with system partners when care and treatment is being commissioned, shared or transferred.

In addition, the summary from 2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove reported:

You had encouraged anyone with symptoms to self-isolate in their rooms. Staff engage all people with activities and help them make video calls to family and friends. You are supporting people to understand the risks associated with COVID 19 and to wear appropriate PPE as required. You are kept updated regarding COVID 19 through newsletters and government updates. You are sharing good practice, offering and gaining support from other care homes.

With regard to The Richardson Mews and The Coach House, the ESF summary reported:

From our discussion and other information about this location, we assess that you are managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. You have systems in place which have ensured you have remained up to date with all relevant guidance. Management plans are in place to manage the assessed risk around COVID 19. To date there have been no confirmed cases of COVID 19 in either home.

With regard to 144 Boughton Green Road, the ESF summary reported:

You have enough staff on duty and have a contingency plan in place if staffing becomes a concern. You support staff by completing risk assessments, team meetings, providing specialised PPE and through supervisions.

As we are moving into the next phase of this pandemic, we want to thank our dedicated teams of managers and staff as well as our service users. They have all demonstrated strength, reliance, creativity and patience during this very challenging time.


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The Coronavirus lockdown is affecting people in many different ways, but it can be particularly difficult for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. They often need routine and structure, which has been disrupted as we’re no longer able to go out and about, visiting the usual places, doing the usual things. People with learning disabilities may not fully understand why their life has changed, or may not be able to verbalise their frustrations. We are supporting them in various ways:

Enhancing understanding

Everyone is different so we are supporting all of our service users according to their own needs and abilities. This can involve using non-verbal communication techniques such as Makaton, TEACHH or the PECS picture exchange system to explain the situation and what we need to do to stay safe.

Well-being

We’re being creative and introducing new structures and routines to keep everyone calm, entertained, safe and happy. We’ve been able to welcome back Martin the Music Man, whose music sessions enrich the lives of the service users in many ways. He’s been singing and playing his guitar in the gardens of the homes, while maintaining a social distance.

We’ve also had several birthdays to celebrate recently so we’ve made them special with garden parties, pamper sessions or parties in the homes with balloons, cakes, treats and gifts.

Trusted relationships

Many of our service users with learning disabilities have been with us for years, so we have a deep understanding of their likes, dislikes, needs and preferences. They have developed trusted relationships with our care support workers, which means that we are better able to support them in difficult times.

Feedback from families

We are also keeping in touch with their loved ones and are very grateful for the feedback we have received from families. Here are some examples:

“We spoke on the telephone this morning and I am writing to you to reiterate what I said to you on the ‘phone…

“There was a feature on this morning’s TV News about the very difficult time many autistic people and their carers are having during the Covid-19 lockdown.  As I watched it, I was reflecting on how very fortunate we are that our son is in your care and that he is being so well looked after and even more importantly, kept safe.  We are truly thankful for your care and for the brilliant work your staff at all levels are doing at during these difficult times. Please circulate this letter to your staff or post it in a prominent position so that all can read it…

Dear Friends

I just wanted to write to you as a parent of one of your residents to say how very grateful I am for the care you are providing for my son and the other residents during these difficult times.  I know you are doing your very best not just to care for our loved ones but to provide them with as varied and stimulating a time as possible.  I know that, like all of us, you are concerned about your own safety and well-being of yourselves and your families and this makes us doubly grateful for the excellent work you are doing.

I hope that you and your families remain well and look forward to being able to resume my regular visits.”

 

“Dear Jane [Service Manager]

I’m writing to say how thankful I am for the care my son has received while having another chest infection. He’s fine now thanks to your great staff. It must be so hard to keep everything germ free.

What really prompted me to contact you is the great idea of the cafe/tuck shop in the garden. That must make all the difference for everyone to go outside in the sun with their little coupons and buy something. I’m sure there are many challenges with everyone inside. Anyway thanks to all of you for a great job.”

We would like to thank all of the families who have sent in messages of support or gifts, and of course, thank our wonderful team of managers and staff. They are being amazingly positive, creative and dedicated, working hard to support our service users with learning disabilities, complex needs and acquired brain injury in these difficult times.

 



In supporting service users with learning disabilities and acquired brain injury, we are used to helping people face challenges and finding ways to overcome them. This means that our brilliant management team and care staff are well-placed to meet the challenges that the Coronavirus is posing right now. They are finding solutions to reduce the risks in our homes while maintaining the quality of life and well-being that we strive to achieve for the people in our care.

We have always enabled our service users to lead happy, healthy lives and fulfil their potential by providing person-centred care. We recognise that each person has individual needs and adapts to situations in different ways. Some people are finding the current situation particularly difficult as they require routine and stability. We are supporting all of our service users with clear communication and reassurance so that they understand, and are not fearful of the changes we are making. We are doing what we can to maintain a sense of normality and structure within each home, while changing activities to keep everyone safe.

Reducing Risk

These are some of the steps we are taking to reduce risk:

  • Cleanliness within the homes is always important, and we have stepped up our cleaning and disinfecting protocols to increase safety.
  • Care staff are following clear handwashing and other hygiene procedures and we have clear procedures in place should we suspect that there is a case of Covid-19 within a home.
  • As many of our service users require frequent orientation due to short-term memory problems because of an acquired brain injury, we are supporting them to wash their hands on a regular basis.
  • All service users are staying within their own home and garden.
  • Care staff rotas are managed so that staff only work within one home and office staff are being redeployed to cover external providers or those self-isolating, so we can minimise the number of different people coming into each home.
  • All non-essential visits to the homes have been suspended.

Community

Creating a feeling of belonging and participation in the local community are among our key principles. Unfortunately, the wealth of community activities in which our service users took part is not possible at the moment. However, each home is a community in itself, with service users and staff creating a family environment. This has never been as important as it is now. We have been so impressed with the staff morale and the way our service users are embracing some of the changes.

Our care support staff, administrators and admissions team are all coming up with creative ideas to keep our service users active, engaged, calm and happy during these difficult times. Activities are wide and varied so that there is plenty to suit everyone. They include: ‘pub quizzes’, bingo, craft activity, yoga, relaxation and meditation, table tennis, football, PE with Joe Wicks, gardening and lunches in the garden. You can find more information about these activities on our social media channels and blog posts over the coming weeks.

Family Support

The families of our service users are naturally concerned, so we have been communicating with them in various ways to demonstrate that life in the homes goes on with minimal disruption. We’re using Whatsapp, Skype, Facetime, emails and letters, sending messages and photos to keep in touch and reassure them. This is some of the feedback we have received.

“Thank you so much for keeping in touch with us all and thank you to all the staff there who are doing a wonderful job keeping things going through this.”

“Thank you so much for passing on our note and for your reassurance.”

“We are living in a difficult time and we hope you and your staff are doing all you can to look after yourselves. My thoughts are with you all.’

We are hugely grateful to our staff and management for their hard work and commitment during this challenging time and we are very proud of them all.


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100% of Respondents Would Recommend Richardson Partnership for Care

We always welcome visits from the family members and friends of the service users in our care. As well as contributing to the service users’ well-being and their family relationships, it also helps to encourage feedback from family members about the care that their loved one is receiving. In addition, we send out an annual questionnaire so that we can formalise the feedback process and identify any changes that are needed. Our service users have acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities, so everyone’s requirements are different, but this process helps us to see the overall picture, identify trends and flag up any issues.

The questionnaires can be anonymous and they are optional, so we may only receive a relatively small number of responses. However, we are very grateful to the family members who complete them. Once again, we have received some very positive feedback and some lovely comments, but we are never complacent. We regularly step back and review our services and are always looking to improve.

We ask all families whether they strongly agree, agree, don’t know or disagree with the following statements:

  1. I am happy with the care provided for my relative
  2. The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling
  3. The home provides an inclusive or family environment
  4. Staff are friendly and approachable
  5. I am regularly updated with information
  6. I feel that my relative is treated with dignity and respect
  7. I feel that their quality of life has improved since they arrived at The Richardson Partnership for Care
  8. I feel that my relative takes part in meaningful and/or enjoyable activities
  9. Would you recommend The Richardson Partnership for Care?

We are pleased that:

100% of respondents said that they would recommend the Richardson Partnership for Care

100% of those who answered said that they strongly agreed or agreed with the statements:
“I am happy with the care provided for my relative”
“The home has a warm, non-institutional feeling”
“Staff are friendly and approachable”
“I feel that my relative is treated with dignity and respect”

89% strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: “The home provides an inclusive or family environment”

And 83% felt that the quality of life of their family member had improved since they arrived at The Richardson Partnership for Care.

All of the 2019 families’ questionnaire results are shown in the graph above.

 

Below are some of the comments from families who completed the questionnaires.

“I know my daughter is safe and cared for with love, respect and kindness, so would recommend the services to everyone…My daughter has been with you a very long time. She loves the staff dearly and has had great support, as have we as a family. I count my daughter to be very lucky to be with you.”


“My son obviously has a very full and happy life. I feel the staff like him and enjoy working with him. They seem well able to cope when he is difficult. Staff seem to stay a long time, which makes for a stable environment.”


“The home maintains adequate standards of care and the carers demonstrate respect and care.”


“Our son is so happy, and to him, you are his family. We wouldn’t want him anywhere else.”

We would like to thank all of the family members who took time to complete the questionnaires.


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The psychology team at The Richardson Partnership for Care plays a crucial role in the care and support of our service users, who have complex needs and acquired brain injuries or learning disabilities. Dr Pedro Areias Grilo, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, heads up the team and is supported by three Assistant Psychologists: Julita Frackowska, Olivia Ferrie and Joseph Szablowski. The Assistant Psychologists are assigned to specific service users according to their needs and the homes in which they live.

Person-centred care
The ethos of the psychology team is the one that runs through the organisation as a whole: the service user is at the centre of everything we do. We are committed to providing individualised care to effectively support the nuanced needs of each service user. We take a person-centred approach and offer interventions to service users based on cognitive behavioural models, dialectical behaviour skills and operant conditioning. All of the interventions offered are evidence-based and follow NICE guidelines.

Psychological reviews
All service users receive an initial psychological review, which includes neuropsychological assessments, a review of clinical presentation, assessment of stability of mood and suggestions for future interventions. This review is then repeated on a regular basis to assess the effectiveness of the therapies and interventions delivered. In addition, we have an ‘open door’ policy at The Richardson Partnership for Care, so all members of the psychology team, and the Assistant Psychologists in particular, can develop close working relationships with the service users. This means that their well-being can be monitored closely on an informal basis and we have found that this helps to maintain their mental health, so any problems can be addressed early, preventing the need for crisis care.

Positive Behaviour Support
Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a key part of the psychological support that we provide and an emphasis on positivity is one of our main philosophies. PBS Plans are person-centred and designed with input from the service user to promote positive behaviour. They are supported to set their own goals and to achieve them.

In addition, Pedro and the team are working on an innovative Positive Behaviour Tool to more effectively monitor and encourage positive behaviour. This runs alongside the traditional techniques of reducing negative behaviour.

Multi-Disciplinary Team
The psychology team works closely with the other members of the multi-disciplinary team. (This comprises a consultant neuropsychiatrist, homes managers, service manager, physiotherapist, speech & language therapist and occupational therapist.) Pedro and Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, Dr Seth Mensah, work closely together to balance the use of drug therapies and psychosocial therapies. Where possible, we aim to focus on psychosocial approaches and gradually reduce the reliance on drug therapy to achieve better outcomes for service users over the longer term.


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T: 01604 791266.
E: welcome@richardsoncares.co.uk.

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